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Monday, September 24, 2012

Step Over Dollars

This was an observation essay for a writing class that I got an A- in.  The teacher harassed me to take more classes with her until I left the Theater Arts Major and moved on to Psychology.

11th November 2007

Observation 2

Feeder gate: you could call it a public place because is normally bustling with activity just not at 2 a.m. on a holiday morning. To appraise it now in its stillness you would never believe that Saturday morning I was sealing truck after truck here with perspiration stinging my eyes. Every were you look this place is gray, the walls, the fences, the ground, even the trailers parked in there rows are painted the color of concrete.

Concrete, concrete, concrete! The word echoes off the building and comes back at me as if the property were laughing. Concrete to keep the boxes in, concrete to keep the thieves out, and a contract to keep me here when I should be out enjoying the rest of my youth.  Hideous slabs of concrete in every direction punctuated by graying colors in the moon light, black, green, brown, rust, as if they were unconsumed islands in the sea of gray. The trailers themselves are like massive gray termites with detachable head sleeping in their hive until they awakened to shuttle packages to the business world and expand other hives until all the world is covered with the gray resin of humanity.

The mosquitoes are keeping me company seeking me out by the smell of my breath over the honeysuckle. One good thing about the trucks during the week is that they keep these miniature vampires off me. I strike another from mid air with my hands and immediately wish I hadn’t bothered to move. The combination of eight hours truck fumes and a workout directly proceeding has left me in a state of misery.

I press up against the plaster walls of the guardhouse and look out at the trailers blocking the gate. Iron isn’t enough to keep the freight safe but a ten-dollar an hour guard is. Fools don’t know that they step over dollars to pick up dimes. Then one of the managers comes out here, a walking penis with its foreskin held down by a tie, I just nod and smile and hope they don’t let loose with me around. Can’t complain much, though, I make out better than most guards.    

In the shack the sound of that piss-poor old-ass air unit breathing its dying breath and the fan punctuate the still of the outside.  It’s too cold in here, but the cold keeps me from nodding off.

I get up and walk out the door for more of my typical pacing but find myself to feeble and sit on the hot concrete island. It’s cracked and pitted with deep gores were the truck hit it. I lean against the phone tower and look at the overflowing trash cans. It’s like they’ve vomited out the litter of truck drivers. They see the can is bursting and still they stuff and stuff. The drivers are all at home sleeping or having fun leaving their mess to be endured by the less fortunate. It’s like a metaphor for the world we have inherited we know what the problems are and we don’t actually do anything about them. Not enough anyway.

If there is one thing that is good about the feeder gate: Landscaping. Flowers and trees that look almost natural if they were not so well kept clash with the industrial nightmare of this massive automated dock. If I weren’t on duty and being watched by cameras I’d go sit in the grass and smell the aroma of the plants. I had never seen honeysuckle before I came here or at least never noticed the white and yellow flowers that smell like a subtler version of jasmine. It’s a good contrast to the eucalyptus and mingles growing with the other plants.

If you sat in the trees and looked to the sky you could forget that this place is what it is, but if you looked during the week the soot from the trucks would blot out the stars. It’s strange how quickly the world can heal.
                                         
The phone rings: “feeder gate, Officer Neal speaking.”  It’s the guard over at the front gate and she has never spent the night out here alone. I don’t blame you for being afraid little sister I’m not happy about working at this place without the right equipment either. I won’t walk this place at night without something to protect myself with.

I bet you’re all wondering why I work here if I don’t like it so much. Well, you’ll find out soon enough because I’ve devoted now some forty pages of one-act plays to the subject. Three total and counting and one of my smaller goals is to have two hours of my life as a security guard woven into the world of plays. However, a friend of mine ditched this type of work for Iraq so, yea, it’s pretty bad.



Thursday, September 20, 2012

Talking to the Devil


Okay, so this was one of the darkest times in my life, and my life is made of bits of darkness.
1st of April 2011
Dear Cassi,

It comes to me that I’m telling you the events of January and here it has become April as if I let time get away from me, and here I stand trying to catch up with it. Much like the detritus in my life I’ve got garbage running round in my head.
       
One of the most important events of this year was your ex-husband calling me. It’s a point impossible to ignore in my life because it’s so telling. By the texts on my cell phone I can tell that it was on the 12th of January that he called some time after eight in the evening. It was a dark time for me. I was at this moment fighting to get a post I could work from Allied, a fight I knew to be futile, and the bleakness of my life had risen around me like walls. Soon those walls would fall and consume me, but that is not the subject of today.
       
I remember looking at my cell phone and seeing a number I didn’t recognize. I answered and I could recognize your ex-husband by his voice.
       
“Rick? I’m sorry. Richard” he said and the fact that he had used my real name stunned me. His abuse of my name had been at the center of his lies. He had constructed a falls person, this “Rick” and Rick had been a man I didn’t recognize.
“Do you have a minute?” he asked and this through me even further off my guard. “You stopped talking to me, and if I couldn’t talk to you-“

As if I hadn’t told him my feelings on his behavior a thousand times. Our friend ship had degenerated into nothing but arguments.
       
“I told you to call and leave a message” I said getting cut off.
       
“I called you three times and I didn’t realize anything was wrong until I told you my grandmother had died,” he said, and what a statement. He didn’t know something was wrong when his closest friend didn’t speak to him for three weeks. His text about his Grandmother’s death had implied that he would be in further contact. The fact that he had not contacted me after this led me to believe that he used her death as a way to get at me.
       
“Then Mr. Hill told me that it was about me calling you Rick and I know I did that a lot, but I knew it was more than that. Isn’t there something I could do to make it up to you?”

“It” He was refusing to say what he had done in the hope that I had failed to understand the scope of his deceptions. I told him “Nothing comes to mind.”

“I want you to be happy. It’s not my fault,” he said repeating a lie I heard before, “I’m impulsive. I didn’t have a plan.” So now I know he had a plan. Why would he deny without accusation? All this time he had thought that I would come round, but there was no hope of that. How could I have forgiven his transgressions? What could he do now that I couldn’t lay trust on him even in the smallest degree?

“My life was hellish with you in it,” I said only saying what I was thinking. I expected nothing as reply to this.

“I didn’t want your life to be hellish.”

“Yes, you did,” I growled.

“I’m going to go now,” he said putting on an act hoping for sympathy. “If you change your mind you have my number.” Little does he know that I deleted the contact.

That was a door that closed some time ago and it feels as if it was a lifetime away. This conversation was no more than a fragment of a ghost caught in the night mist.

It would appear that I broke the one page limit some time ago. It couldn’t be helped. As I look over my words I find that there are things missing but it is now too much to recall it all.

What will become of things?



Richard Leland Neal

Monday, September 17, 2012

Theatre that Just is

This was a play review I wrote back in college that I wrote before acquiring the software that permits me to properly edit my work. As such it required some editing of its own. I have to admit that this is rubbish but I, well, I just need to post something.

14th March 2005


The Funny Thing

(A junior) College’s “A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” was everything I expected it to be. That is to say it was every thing I expect a college play to be like. I would not call it a professional quality production. It certainly was not something I would want to see again but I don’t feel that it was a waist of my time.

The show began with what had to be the worst case of over microphoning that I have ever laid ear on. I could hear the hissing of the speakers and the rise and fall of sound as technicians struggled to keep up with the weak vocal quality. This stopped being a problem as the show got going and there was some sound to cover the hiss.  However, the show remained very metallic and never allowed actors to build significant air speed. 

The lighting left nothing to be desired. There was only one lighting effect of note, being the light around the stage that flashed for a large mystical number. However, lighting does not always have a major roll to play in theatre. Sometimes lighting the show is all it needs to do. There were some effects using colored gels but then that is really less of an effect as the reality of light being sent at the stage is that it is all colored and only appears white because of the even nature of its distribution.
         
The set construction was centered around a known illusion stile depicting that the show is supposed to look staged. Despite the functional reality of the set, people appearing on the second story of every home, all the surfaces were flat painted wood. We are supposed to see the show as it is, a show, not a depiction of reality. If that were removed what we would have is a rather dark comedy about a slave fighting for his freedom and a man looking to take a slave as his wife. Either are not good premises for comedy as they are very dark. Would the foolishness of Hero, lusting after a woman that has never met him, be anything but sad if it were not for a constant reminder that this is just a show and nothing more? 
         
Directorially the show was well staged with movements that were very witty. In fact now that I think about it I may have enjoyed it more had I not been forced to listen to it. The caste was particularly well played. Characters had to interact with each other wile keeping in time with the movement of other actors. The references to American idol were over the top. I have to say that (the Director) may have been implying that the vocalists from that show suck in general but the effect was just not funny. Some of the other things were just lost on me. I’m not a fan of many of the modern shows to which he makes reference.
         
However, this is a play that lends itself far better to this style of theatre than many of the other works like this that I have seen. Take those little add-ins by the director. The language was such as to blend in easily with small added jokes about what was on television last week. I think one of the men should have had a wardrobe malfunction. Like the man in the white dress having his fake boob falling out and bouncing across the stage. That would have been funny. 
         
The makeup was, very made up, especially for older characters except for Hero’s father who looked as if he had none at all. I also have to say that it was thickly applied. Again this may be to add to the “staged” appearance but it was not totally universal and it didn’t appear to have any real distinction between who had it and who did not.
         

So there it is. It was a fun little show but nothing to write home about. There hasn’t been a show I really liked in a long time. So it’s possible that my standards are too high but then if I had the time for more theatre I would go to more theatre. So for them moment I will need to be content with theatre that just is. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Learn from My Mistakes

Year of Neal 

I found this blurb in my files, and I have a better understanding of what my teachers meant when they called my work ‘hieroglyphics’. It comes to me that this is too short to make a post but I will include the original text and a translation so that it can be understood. The file date was the 18th of June 1995.

Original

This year has been a trieng one, I have lerd more out of the clase room then in it. I havelerned the dienamics of the homan mined. Toched opon the workings of the body; and obof all sean the depth of his descras.
                        
As I sit thinking of  what one thing did I lern that stans out, I reais this is not as simpl as it seams. I lerned that all computers are of comen disien, but it is not sobject mater. What I think is the most inpotant thing for me to have lerned is that if one is to hevaly reliant on once self; that one will destoi the grop nomater how hared he or she works. This is of cors specing in terms of presentation as far as the work gos one or meny just get it dun and thats the way I see it.
                         Unforchunatly even now as   

Translation

This year has been a trying one, I have learned more out of the class room then in it. I have learned of the dynamics of the human mind, touched upon the workings of the body; and above all seen the depth of its disgrace.
                        
As I sit thinking of what one thing I did learn that stood out I realize this is not as simple as it seems. I learned that all computers are of common design, but not all subject matter. What I think is the most impotent thing for me to have learned is that if one is too heavily reliant on one’s self, that one will destroy the group no matter how hard he or she works. This is of course speaking in terms of presentation as far as the work goes one or many just get it done and that’s the way I see it.
                         Unfortunately even now as …  

Okay, as you can read the text is only slightly more understandable when converted to my best estimation of my own thoughts those nearly twenty years ago. I was very ill at the time and could hardly think.

What I believe this is speaking of is a group project where one of the boys kept asking for help but I asked what he needed help with he kept saying ‘everything’ which was of no use in directing our energy.

It was a mock radio program where we were to teach history. I had read my part of the script and having seen that I only had one line insisted he rewrite it so that I had more. He only gave the other boys one line so we were downgraded because it looked like only two of the four group members did the work.

Well, you live and learn I guess. First lesson, ask for help with a direct problem, and never make your request nebulous. Second lesson, inspect as much of the finished product as you can. Third lesson, make sure work assignments are well rounded.

I hope someday someone will learn from my mistakes.


Richard Leland Neal

Monday, September 10, 2012

Something for We


17th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

Yesterday I took my first of four assertion classes. I see little use in these classes as they do nothing for my social situations, but as they double as an assignment for grad school I may as well finish this program then move on to another.
       
The overall idea of this class is that appropriate human behavior exists as moderation between two extremes. That is to say that the assertive person is midway between a passive and an aggressive person. This is to say that a passive person accepts whatever happened and an aggressive person meets with resistance. This assumes that you are dealing with reasonable people and that simply has never been my situation.
       
The first major point from this class on Monday was that a person should do something for themselves every day. As if we all have the time for that, honestly, something for yourself often is more appropriate. For those who do have time cooking, watching TV, playing video games, going to the Gym are all acceptable options. As for me, I play with the dog, write, and draw comics.
       
Point two of the Monday session was what do you do that you do so well. For me this was cooking and my work at the homeless shelter. I’d say that I do both of these things very well. Both of these things are point of pride for me.
       
So, Cassi, what do you do well, and what do you do for yourself? I imagine you haven’t much time for yourself, but in this life we often must make do.

Stay safe, little sister


Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I, Techno


16th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

As the memory of my Cyborg stories sparked in my mind a question came to me: what is a Cyborg? The short answer is a life form enchased with technology to function better than its natural design. Under this definition all humans are Cyborgs. You see we use language and that is technology. Moreover, pens and written, rods, or anything not holy provided by nature would make a life form a Cyborg.
       
That includes the roads we drive on and the tools we build. Society is Cybernetic. The bird and the ants are to natural Cyborgs.
       
This is not the definition I thought of when I wrote about them. I further read that there is the idea of feedback. Only a device with direct feedback to the nervous system would define something as a Cyborg so some thinkers on the word. Now I’m just confused.
       
This thinking gave life to the idea of the Lobster Type Cyborg which is a suit or set of armor that one can put on. This linking directly with the mined would create a very effective working system with a human at control.
       
However, the Cyborgs of the story were as cursed by their condition as they were helped. They could not simply takeoff their augmentations. Thus the creatures I speak of are life forms repaired by technology.
       
I guess what I mean when I say Cyborg and the definition for the story I told you about will be a living being permanently augmented with technology as artificial parts directly connected to the Nervous system.

Stay real, little sister



Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Funny Old Car


15Th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

One of the funny things that comes to mind when I think of days gone past is the old silver car that Alan had when he would come over for his visitation rights. I have no recollection of the make. I remember that it had a burgundy interior and that the radio had been replaced not because Alan wanted one but because the lat owner thought it kept the resale up.
       
I think the radio was always silent when we were in the car. It may not have worked. I knew it had been replaced because holes had been roughly punched to fit the knobs into the dashboard. When you first looked at it you thought the damage near the radio was from old age but after a few thoughts you knew it was intentional.
       
One of the odd points of this car was that he kept a white candle in the back. It was a wagon and the candle was there to be seen looking rather phallic after melting a bit in the sun. I have no recollection of anything to light the candle. Thus if it was meant to be light on a dim roadway I think it would have failed.
       
I recall sitting in back as we drove down the roadway and watching the glass of the windows dance. I told the old man that he needed new shocks, how I knew what shocks were at six I do not know, and him saying “it had new shocks.” Then he would look at me with this smile that dripped of some evil I never identified and say, “when it was new.”
       
Still, the prize of this by far was his air conditioning which was a joke to all but him. He would take a gallon jug and fill it at the hose then pour it over the car. This was too little to do any good, but the idea is sound.
       
Over my lifetime I have always thought of the fairytale lies as being nice bits that we are not meant to believe. This would include the Easter Bunny, the Tooth fairy, and the old man’s air conditioning.

Let the truth keep you strong, little sister



Richard Leland Neal

Monday, September 3, 2012

Washing and Waiting


14th April 2012
Dear Cassi,

As you know, my health has always been a problem. This stems most from my depression but is not the only cause. There is one occasion that I recall; it is nothing but an odd story, from gym class in middle school. The class was running and to keep pace the gym teacher was running at the end of the group where I was because of my poor health.
       
I will call this fellow Smacky as he was found doing just that in his office by some other boys. In any case, Smacky was having trouble running just as I was that day. His knee locked up and like a fool he kept trying to run.
       
If there is one thing I have learned over the years about exercise it’s ‘listen to your body’. Pain is not a good thing and when a bit of you stops doing as it’s told keeping on with things will lead to injury. Smacky just kept running. He set a bad example and now that I think of it I’ve followed that example more than once.
       
Then Smacky, true to his name, was one to walk about with a stain in the front of his pants. He was a shriveled up gross old man. Pickles once told me that back in his time at the school Smacky would stand and watch the boys shower with far too much interest. 
       
I’m glad I never had to go through that, but in hind sight I would have sent a letter to the school board. I never heard stories of him molesting the boys, but there are some things you just need to be sure on.

Stay honest, little sister


Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Put Clothes On


13th April 2012

Dear Cassi,

Today I commit to memory George Washington’s seventh rule of civility and decent behavior: “Put not off your Cloths in the presence of Others, nor go out your Chamber half Dressed.”
   
Let us first understand that this was a different time. In being so it was a time of vermin and illness. In this time the body was often an ugly thing covered in scars and dirt. To see a man’s chest would be to see his fleas and oozing wounds. In this degree the body was a thing not to be seen.
   
Further on that thinking was the commonality of sexual repression. I believe that it was not until the time of the World Wars that a woman in pants was socially acceptable. Even at the time I think this was not common.
   
I would have to say that this rule today would mean more along the line of ‘dress appropriate for the situation’. It would be silly for a man to put on a shirt at the beach and I do imagine that a bikini would be half dressed for Washington’s time.
   
Modesty of the body has left us for the most part but there are still limits to what we should and should not show the world.

Live in the moment, little sister,

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I, Cyborg


12th April 2012

Dear Cassi,


I think you may recall Turtle Nose speaking of a story I worked on back in middle school that stayed with me to mid high school. I have but fragments of its evolution in my mind now and so little was ever written down with all the obstacles in my way. Many were the nights … or days … or evenings maybe, I can no longer give account of such things, that I would sit imprisoned in my mind unable to sleep but too weak to move.
       
My wandering thoughts would spin yarns for me in that hell that gave me what play I could have at eleven. The darkness of my life was lit only by my stories as the spark of light I had to cling to in keeping my sanity. I called my hero Claw as hands had then been useless to me. Those people from where Claw came I called Clordonians. They were a race of Cyborgs things made of machine and flesh.
       
So, from where did the Clordonians come? The face I took from the Terminator and the body was that of a toy soldier that lost a hand. The ship I saw them fight across space with was a toy gun that came with the soldier.
       
In my head and with bits a bobbles I constructed a thing I would dream to become because of my depression. The Clordonian was a being that had suffered terrible wounds and could still live. Wounds like those on my heart from my mother’s death. The beings arms could move by servos and by flesh and so it could feel no pain or fatigue.
       
These things of my imagination were the engineers of a world where my pain would end. They were the saviors from my privet hell, the guardian angels I wished I had. They were the grim smile that kept me alive in this world.

Find your smile, little sister; it only needs to shine for you,





Richard Leland Neal